Various Small Fires is pleased to present Christian Quin Newell’s debut solo exhibition in Los Angeles, and in the United States.
Newell’s new works invite us to explore his mysterious, internal world. Loose gestures and a slightly flattened or warped painterly space depict a landscape out of time, part chess board and part dream space. Buildings inspired by early Christian architecture, science fiction, and tarot, dissolve into the sky or emerge from mist, clouding where exactly all this is taking place. Many of Newell’s paintings envelop the viewer with their large scale, while geometric patterns suggest structures, games, and rules.
Several paintings depict warrior figures, solo or in pairs, such as Disrupting the lead leg I and II, both 2022, and draw inspiration from the artist’s indiginous Jamaican father, a dancer, martial artist, and performer. Their faces bear painted marks, as though they are preparing for a confrontation, but their expressions reveal few emotions. Perhaps their battle is mental, or metaphysical, or on a different plane of existence. Newell’s muted palette - heavy on black, white, sea green, and sienna - emphasizes the isolation of his protagonists and simultaneously points to the artist’s Northern Italian roots. Floating balls, blobs, heads, hands, flowers, chalices, cups, coins and other symbolic objects punctuate the quiet fields.
What is the endgame for these psychic warriors? Perhaps the journey is the endgame: the process of learning, of acquiring that mystery knowledge which allows us to become a fuller human being, an artist, to find our place in the world, or whatever journey we’re all on.
The artist writes, “I grew up in-between two countries, rural Northern Italy and South East London, Peckham which was very rough in the 90’s. Looking back, these two contrasts really had a big impact on my perception of life. I really got an early glimpse into the extreme differences in life and lifestyle. As a result I always felt I had to change character quite often as to keep up with the demand of my changing environments and due to my mixed heritage, I never really felt I completely fitted into any one culture. I had to discover my own path.” The artist’s paintings reflect these experiences, alluding to duality, impermanence, and the search for wisdom.
Christian Quin Newell (b.1991, Latisana, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, lives and works in London, United Kingdom) received his BA from the Department of Illustration from Camberwell College of Art, London. Recent exhibitions include New York Studio School, Public Gallery, London; WT Foundation, Kyiv, Ukraine; Canada NYC, New York and The Drawing Center, New York. He completed an invitational residency at the WT Foundation, Kyiv, Ukraine at the beginning of 2021 and was the artist in residence at The Fores Project, London in May 2021